C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


 

Fire safety a non-issue in UT schools
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 17
Last year, the Chief Fire Officer, of his own initiative, approached the DPI (Schools), urging him to have fire safety norms implemented in the 100-odd city schools. The DPI, in turn, issued a circular to this effect and a handful of schools did show interest in implementing fire safety norms. They even approached the Chief Fire Officer on how to go about the matter. That was last summer when the heat was unbearable.

During the course of the meetings with heads of schools, the monsoon arrived. All intentions of providing fire-safety to school children got washed away with the first downpour. Yesterday’s incident of fire raging in a school in Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu, brought back the concern for fire safety in city schools for the officer. However, despite the devastation, city schools still seem disinterested.

  • CFO urges DPI (Schools) to ensure fire safety measures last summer
  • DPI (Schools) issues circular to schools recognised by the Chandigarh Education Department.
  • A handful of schools approach the CFO
  • The first monsoon shower washes away their interest

The Chief Fire Officer, Mr G.S. Bajwa, says: “Fire-safety seems a non-issue in city schools, virtually non-existent and not worth a second thought. The oldest schools and colleges of the city are most casual in their approach to fire-safety measures.”

In most city schools, especially government schools, fire-safety is given a go-by. No emergency exits, only one exit point in one block and absence of fire extinguishers and sand bags are the bane of these institutions.

“The older the school or college, the poorer are their fire-safety measures. Even in schools where fire extinguishers have been installed, these are old and out dated. When schools can spend so much on providing other facilities, they must not compromise on fire safety measures. It is a matter of personal safety. They ought to take on themselves this responsibility of protecting the students they admit,” Mr Bajwa maintained.

He stated while no action could be initiated against schools who failed to adhere to implementing fire-safety measures, most new schools were well equipped with these measures. “We are not passing plans of schools unless the fire safety measures are in place. So, they have no option but to comply with them,” he claimed.
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Directive on fire safety
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, July 17
The Deputy Commissioner Panchkula, Neelam Kasni, has issued a directive to the Executive Officer of the local Municipal Council to ensure that all educational institutes, especially schools, adhere to fire-safety norms.

She has appealed to the public to inform her if any government buildings violates fire safety norms.
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3 multiplexes likely in Sector 17
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 17
The city centre in Sector 17 will soon have three multiplexes giving shoppers an option to “shop till you drop”. The oldest theatres - Neelam, Jagat and KC — are in varying stages of getting their buildings converted into multiplexes complete with glass façades, latest and smaller movie screening halls, commercial areas and some of the best food courts in the country.

Concept plans for the future have been submitted by the managements of Jagat and KC cinemas, respectively. The issue of parking is foremost in the minds of the Chandigarh Administration, said a source. Neelam cinema which is located in the prime commercial area commands some of the highest price of property, may be even more lucrative for such type of business.

Sources in the trade said Delhi based builders were in the process of tying up purchase or partnership agreements for multiplexes with the respective managements. Being an investment of anything between Rs 30 to Rs 40 crore, the partners are secretive about the deals. Since all the three are freehold property, there are no rights of the Administration.

Interestingly, in the case of KC theatre which has a semicircular exterior, the Administration may put its foot down and ask the owner to retain its original shape. Mr Ashok Mahajan, owner of the cinema admitted “I will retain the round look but will change its inside. I am also looking at the design of a multiplex in Delhi where the same shape has been designed. I cannot run a muliplex with the present colour combination though”.

The cinema owners may get some more leverage for commercial areas within their new complexes, said a source in the Administration. Already they are permitted to change the façade or what is called the exterior of building with prior permission of the Urban Planning Department.

Insiders in the trade reveal that Jagat may have five storeys and another two in the basement for parking. KC may be allowed more area for the atrium or which is open to natural light. In lieu of this the management will be asked to retain the original shape. Both the cinemas will have to have three screens each having a capacity of anything between 200 and 225.

Since both are located in congested areas, the Administration’s first idea is to have ample parking in the basement. Most multiplexes in Gurgaon or Noida have up to four levels of basements for parking.
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Eight samples found cholera-infected
Neelam Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 17
After most of the water samples failed the purity tests earlier this week, the stool samples collected by the Department of Medical Microbiology at the PGI here have too, been found to be infected. Seven stool samples out of 31 collected from the symptomatic persons (with cholera symptoms) have been found to be infected with vibrio cholerae, the organism responsible for cholera infections.

Out of the 18 other stool samples collected from the asymptomatic persons (who did not have the symptoms of the disease at the time when the samples were taken), one sample has been found infected with the organism. The samples were collected from a construction site in Sector 50, from where maximum number of patients were taken to the General Hospital, Sector 16, last week with cholera symptoms.

Confirming the results, the Head of Department of the Medical Microbiology at PGI, Prof Meera Sharma, while talking to the Chandigarh Tribune, said that the special teams were formed last week by the department.

These teams visited the areas where the cholera outbreak took place last week. The report has been forwarded to the authorities for appropriate action.

Commenting on the reasons of the cholera infections, Professor Sharma said, “These are the faeco-oral infections, which means that the source of infection and presence of organism responsible for the disease has entered the body through the oral route. Consumption of infected food items, including drinking contaminated water, infected food and poor sanitary conditions are responsible for the infections.”

Professor Sharma said the unhygienic conditions prevailing in the slum colonies and construction sites on the city’s periphery were responsible for the infections. Presence of flies and consumption of uncovered food items, bought from the vendors, were other main sources of infection.
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Venturing out of the confines of barren mountains
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 17
For a group of 20 girls from Leh, it was an amazing experience to traverse the Capital on the Metro train, look up at high-rise buildings and to behold the splendor of the Taj Mahal.

Having never ventured out of their home district, an Army-sponsored trip to Delhi, Agra and Chandigarh is giving them a new insight to life beyond the confines of barren mountains. Having seen things on TV, a first hand experience is a different matter altogether.

Accompanied by their warden, Ms Sonam Angmo, the group reached here today from New Delhi and would be spending a few days visiting various places. All the girls are inmates of a women's hostel, run by the Army in Leh and study in various local schools.

Visibly excited about their trip, the girls, all aged between 12--19 years, said that the expedition had given them a glimpse of life, culture and developments in different parts of the country. More than the hustle-bustle of the big cities, what has struck them is the lush green environs of some of the places they visited.

A class XII student, Dachen Lamo, who has seen part of Chandigarh on TV, is looking forward to visit places like the Rock Garden and Sukhna Lake. Hailing from Kharu district, where her father is a farmer, she was appreciative of wide, tree-lined roads and broad expanses of fields.

A class-VI student, Rinchan Angmo, who thought that there was nothing more beautiful than the Taj Mahal, was also impressed by the Kutab Minar, while Lobzang Youbol, a class-V student and among the youngest of the group, was fascinated by the ride on the Metro train in Delhi. She expressed her desire to join the Army as a lady officer as she liked the uniform.

The hostel warden, Ms Angmo said that under Operation Sadbhavna, the students from remote areas of Jammu and Kashmir were being shown different facets of the country. The main objective of the programme was to inculcate a sense of belonging and create awareness about the country.
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Family's vain attempt to whisk away girl
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, July 17
The family of a young girl who had come to the Punjab and Haryana High Court along with a boy whom she claimed to have married today tried to forcibly take away the girl from court premises.

The girl's family members and their supporters also manhandled a lawyer, Mr K.K. Saini, when he tried to intervene in the matter. Attempts were also made to manhandle some other lawyers and staff of the office of the Punjab Advocate General.

They were led by the girl's father, Malkeet Singh. The boy, Suraj, was also manhandled.

The drama began when the girl, Pardeep Kaur, arrived at the court along with the boy to seek protection. In the parking area of the High Court, the duo and their family members and friends were stopped by the family of the girl.

On seeing the situation taking an ugly turn, cops posted in the High Court intervened and took away the father of the girl and some of his supporters to the Sector 3 police station, where a Daily Diary Report was registered.

On being informed about the incident, the Division Bench of Chief Justice Mr Justice B.K. Roy and Mr Justice Surya Kant called all the parties in the court.

In the presence of police officers, the Bench was given an undertaking by the girl's parents that no harm would be done to the two. The DDR registered in the matter was also ordered to be cancelled.
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Sewage treatment plant underutilised
Geetanjali Gayatri
Tribune News Service

Factfile

  • Total sewage from the city is 45 MGD
  • 30 MGD water is being treated at the sewage treatment plant in Digian village in Mohali
  • 5 MGD of treated water is being supplied to the city
  • Remaining water is being discharged after treatment

Digian (Mohali), July 17
Under-utilisation of the 30-million-gallon per day-capacity sewage treatment plant is costing the city dear in terms of wastage of drinking water. Hit by a cash-crunch for the past 10 years, the engineering wing of the Municipal Corporation has been unable to complete the networking of pipelines for supplying treated water to the city.

If this treated water is used for watering lawns, as was the original plan after the second phase of the plant was completed in 1991, it can save upto 30 MGD of fresh water which literally goes down the drain in the city which is short by 35 MGD.

At present, the sewage plant is treating only 5 MGD of water which is being supplied to water the lawns of the Golf Club, a part of PGIMER, Panjab University and Sector 16. The rest is being treated and discharged.

The Mayor, Ms Kamlesh, who visited the sewage treatment plant, here today, said that the MCC would try to hasten the process of laying pipes for supplying more treated water to the city. "The Administration set up the entire complex of the treatment plant and handed it over to us. Initially, ambiguity prevailed about who would handle the networking which has been dealt with now. However, we are convinced that we can save a lot of fresh water if supply of treated water is started and made mandatory as soon as possible. This should be implemented by slapping heavy fines on those wasting fresh water on watering lawns and washing cars," she added.

The Superintending Engineer (Public Health), Mr Swaran Singh, said the process had already started and would be completed in the next five years. "Meanwhile, a third phase of the sewage treatment plant is also being readied. This would cater to the increase in supply of sewage on account of augmentation of water supply once the fourth phase of the Kajauli waterworks is completed," he stated.

The total sewage generated from the city is 45 MGD of which 40 MGD can be treated at the 30 MGD-capacity plant by overloading the system. "The plant has an overloading capacity of 10 to 15 per cent. We use that to treat as much water as possible while 5 MGD of water goes untreated and is discharged into a rivulet which opens into the Ghaggar. After the completion of the third phase we will be able to take care of the entire sewage," Mr Swaran Singh maintained.
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Water supply scheme inaugurated
Our Correspondent

Zirakpur, July 17
Zirakpur Nagar Panchayat president Narender Sharma today inaugurated a water supply scheme in Ward no 1 and 2 of Wadhawa Nagar. The project, which is likely to be completed within a couple of months, will help the authority to meet with the long pending demand of the residents.

According to a statement released by senior vice president of Wadhawa Welfare Society, Mr Kuldeep Dhiman, the project will cost about Rs 25 lakh.
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Panchkula police seeks more staff
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, July 17
Alarmed by the increasing crime in the township, the police authorities have sought more force to improve policing.

Troubled by the demand for frequent transfers from the district, and the shortfall in police personnel, the district police authorities have also sought the doing away of the condition of not posting policemen in their home district. A proposal to this effect was made during a meeting of all police districts chaired by the Inspector-General of the Ambala Range on Tuesday.

The district authorities reasoned that Panchkula was regarded as a punishment posting and most policemen posted here were inclined to get themselves posted out.

The police here has proposed that those policemen whose home district is Panchkula could be posted here. They have also asked for additional women police force, hailing from Ambala and Yamunanagar. They would be posted on duties where they could be free in the evening and can go back to their homes, said a senior police official.

The police authorities have asked that the staff in the district should be increased in order to meet the growing demands of policing. The personnel would be put in the traffic branch and for general patrolling.

Though the population of the township has increased manifold ever since it came into existence more than 25 years ago, the strength of the police has remained static. The population in the district is 4.68 lakh but the strength of the personnel posted in the district has remained static at 805. It is, perhaps, because of this reason that crime has been increasing. Though the police has tried innovative patrolling in order to bring down crime, it has met with little success.

The fact that the township has highly porous entry and exit points goes to the advantage of miscreants, who can reach Chandigarh on the one side and Punjab on the other, within minutes of committing a crime in the township. Other than this, the escape route into Uttaranchal via Kala Amb or to Himachal Pradesh is also an hours’ drive from the township. Senior officials admit that most of the crimes remained unsolved as the accused slipped away from the township into neighbouring states. They said staff constraints did not allow them to plug the entry/exit points of the district on a permanent basis.

The total sanctioned strength of the district police is 944 but the department is short of around 139, including DSP, Inspectors, Sub-Inspectors, Assistant Sub-Inspectors, and the constabulary. Of the remaining 805 cops, only about 600 are available for routine duty, after those employed as munshis, readers, office staff in police stations and police posts, as well as district police headquarters, are taken out.

While around 150 of these 600 policemen available for actual policing, are posted in Kalka, Pinjore, Morni, Barwala and Raipur Rani, a meagre 450 policemen are available in the township having a population of around 1. 80 lakh. Chapter II of the Punjab Police Rules , also applicable to Haryana, clearly states that the police to population ratio should ordinarily be one constable for a population of 450 in towns with a population above 30,000. However, the police to population ratio in Panchkula is one policeman for a population of 581.

Women cops to man traffic

The Ms Mamta Singh, has a unique proposal for improving the traffic policing. After deputing more staff to traffic management (the strength of the traffic police is now 37, as against the earlier strength of 27), the SP has decided to have more women in the traffic wing. As many as 10 women constables have been deputed for traffic duty. “The idea,” says Ms Mamta Singh,”is that the traffic violators will be embarrassed when pulled up by women cops, and this will have a deterrent effect”.
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2.5 acres earmarked for Vigilance Bureau complex
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Mohali, July 17
The Punjab Vigilance Bureau has finally been allotted a piece of land which it can call its own in Mohali. A chunk of over 2.5 acres has been earmarked in Sector 68 for the Vigilance Bureau by the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) here.

The Bureau will have to pay PUDA Rs 1800 per square yard. The Bureau will have to dole out Rs 2.5 crore just for the land. The land will be developed into a full fledged office complex for the Vigilance Bureau officers who have been functioning from some scattered offices in Sector 17 till now.

Despite the fact that the Vigilance Bureau offices were located in Chandigarh, the Bureau had to register all its cases at a VB police station in Mohali, a police station that never existed on the ground but would be referred to in all investigation papers. The Phase VIII police station was used to lodge those arrested in various cases and Vigilance Bureau sleuths would routinely shuttle from Chandigarh to Mohali.

The office complex will be designed and constructed by the Punjab Police Housing Corporation. “Although I am not aware that a piece of land has been earmarked for the VB office complex in Mohali, we will construct it if we are given the land and the funds,” said Mr Anil Kaushik, ADGP, PPHC. Mr Kaushik added that the PPHC, too, had asked for some land in Mohali to build houses for Punjab policemen.

Starting with the office of the Chief Director, Vigilance Bureau, all other administrative offices will be located in Mohali. A questioning room and lock-ups will form a part of the complex. For the time being no residential houses have been planned in the complex.

Sources in PUDA said the land is likely to be allotted to the Bureau when the payment for the same is received. The Bureau will have to pay at least 25 per cent of the total cost, a sum of approximately Rs 63 lakh to take possession of the land.
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Beginning to walk again
Tribune News Service

Mohali, July 17
For Vijay Kumar, a 30-year-old resident of Bathinda, Dr Salil Saha of Phase II here is no less than God. Dr Saha has managed to treat Vijay of multiple spinal fractures that had made him an invalid. Many doctors, including those at the PGI, had declared Vijay a paraplegic for life and permanently disabled, but today Vijay is beginning to walk again and looking forward to leading an almost normal life.

On May 31, 2004, Vijay was working on the 12th metre level of the Guru Nanak Thermal Plant at Bathinda when he slipped and fell from the height. A helmet saved his life, but he sustained a serious spinal fracture. He was rushed to a local hospital. He was paralysed and lost complete control on his bladder and bowel function. He was shifted to the PGI from Bathinda.

“PGI doctors told me that there is no treatment for what I had suffered and that I will be in bed now for the rest of my life,” recalled Vijay. However, Vijay's employer, Mr P.A. Terly, a contractor working for the thermal plant, did not lose hope. He brought Vijay to Dr Saha's clinic in Phase II here, where he was operated upon.

“Vijay lost the vital initial week by shuttling between institutions. A tedious six-hour complicated surgery was performed on him. As a result, Vijay Kumar completely recovered from his paralysis. He regained the lost bladder and bowel functions,” explained Dr Saha.

Vijay, a father of two, is the only bread winner in his family. “My wife is illiterate, and there is no one who can take care of the family. For me, this is the beginning of a new life,” said Vijay.

“This surgery can be termed as one of the most difficult of spine surgeries and is performed only by limited spine surgeons. Personally, the surgery is very rewarding as, 6 or 7 patients have completely recovered after similar surgeries performed by me in the past one year. Such operations need a lot of training. I have been taught and encouraged by Prof Raj Bahadur of Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32,” said Dr Saha.
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Red Cross to start ‘clothes bank’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 17
The Union Territory Red Cross will start a “clothes bank” for the poor and needy in Chandigarh. The Red Cross has invited residents and social organisations in the region to come forward and donate new as well as used clothes for the poor.

The Red Cross has made it clear: “No rags, torn or worn-out clothes, please”. Donors based in foreign countries can also do their bit by sending in clothes through parcels, says the Deputy Commissioner-cum-chairman of the UT Red Cross, Mr Arun Kumar.

The unique “clothes bank” will be operational from August 2. Donors will have an option to either bring the clothes personally at the office of the Red Cross Society or make a telephone call and the society will send somebody to collect these. The office of the society is at Karuna Sadan Building (near the fire station), Sector 11-B, Chandigarh. The numbers to call are 2744188 and 2745681.

The service for door-to-door collection will be available only locally. However, if the donation is substantial, the Red Cross will send a team and vehicle to get it. Mr Arun Kumar said: “If an organisation, say in Patiala or Ludhiana, wants to give something, we will send our teams.”

Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) can also contribute to the “clothes bank.”

Poor and needy persons, who wish to collect clothes, can contact the Red Cross office every Saturday between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. from August 7 onwards. The UT Red Cross Society, depending upon the stock of the material, shall also hold special camps for the distribution of clothes in various colonies of the city.
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Halwarvi’s books released
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 17
Had noted Punjabi litterateur Harbhajan Halwarvi been alive today, he would have been overwhelmed by fond remembrances showered upon him at the Sector 34 State Library.

The occasion was not routine by any standards. Although it saw the release of two of Halwarvi’s lesser known but outstanding works, it was made special by a presence that confirmed the writer’s popularity.

Present during the event that saw the launch of “Nikke Wade Safar” and “Pahle Panne” were Mr H.K. Dua, Editor-in-Chief of The Tribune, who did the honours and Mr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar. Ms Pritpal Kaur, Harbhajan Halwarvi’s better half and Major-Gen Himmat Singh Gill (retd), Chairman, Chandigarh Sahitya Akademi, were also present.

Major-Gen Gill, who shared a special relationship with Halwarvi, reflected on the latter’s goodness as a human and his sensitivity as a writer. He also talked about the two books, out of which “Pahle Panne” is a collection of Halwarvi’s poems written between 1962 and 1968, while “Nikke Wade Safar” is a travelogue that features a dispassionate account of the writer’s travels abroad.

He said a writer always lived in his works, adding that “Nikke Wade Safar”, although ready last year, could not be released due to the author’s death.

Mr Dua said he missed Halwarvi by a few months. He went on to recount what Halwarvi’s friends and colleagues at the Punjabi Tribune thought about him. “I have not been fortunate enough to meet Mr Halwarvi, but I have heard a lot about him. There is not a single person in the Punjabi Tribune who is not full of praise for the man,” he said.

Hinging his speech on idealism, which Halwari was able to sustain through his days of struggle and achievement, Mr Dua said, “In younger days, everyone is full of idealism, but sustenance of optimism requires great qualities. Mr Halwarvi was steadfast in following the values he believed in. Moreover, he was more of a writer than a journalist, and I wonder if I am the right man to launch his books. Journalists deal with catchy ideas that make good headlines, whereas a poet’s reaction to human tragedy is entirely different. A poet looks into the future”.

Confessing that he had not read any of Halwarvi’s books, Mr Dua said he would like to read “Pahle Panne” someday. He also called for translations of Halwarvi’s works into other languages to ensure a wider readership.

Earlier, Mrs Halwarvi shared with the gathering some instances that reflected the optimism of her husband and his never-say-die spirit. Her narrations portrayed Halwarvi in real light — an outstanding writer and a resolute human. Similar was the tone of Mr S.P.Singh as he remembered Halwarvi’s recurring desire to be a teacher. “He never really wanted to be a journalist,” he said.
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Problems of Dalits discussed
Our Correspondent

Mohali, July 17
One of the main reasons for the backwardness of the Dalit class is illiteracy as a result of which this section of the society had got cut off from the main social stream.

These views were expressed by Mr Sri Ram Arsh, a former joint director of the Education Department, at a seminar on “Dalit Samaj Pachhrewan kyon” organised by the Dalit Chetna Manch, Punjab, at Daon village, near here yesterday.

The speakers said that the dream of Dr B.R. Ambedkar of economic and social equality could not be fulfilled under the pressure of the rich. He said that the Dalits should not trust the big promises made by politicians.

The president of the manch, Mr Shamsher Purkhalwi, said that political leaders had always used this section of the society for personal gains and that was why even after 57 years of Independence Dalits could not avail themselves of the basic needs of life. The social and economic gap was increasing each day.

The local SDM, Mr M.L. Sharma, who was the chief guest, honoured students who got first two positions in the Ropar district in the matriculation examination. Vandana Kumari and Jaskaran Singh, who stood first and second, respectively, were given cash awards and mementoes for their performance. The SDM assured all possible help to the manch.
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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar to visit Pak
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 17
Renowned spiritual leader and founder of the Art of Living Foundation, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, will embark on a four-day peace mission to Pakistan on July 19, 2004. He will be the first spiritual master from India to visit Pakistan on such a mission.

During his visit, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar will hold informal meetings with political and business leaders, religious heads and social activists in Karachi and Islamabad. He is likely to meet President Pervez Musharraf, Prime Minister Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, the Governor of Sind and the Mayor of Karachi.

“Also planned are meetings with Pakistan-based leaders of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) and other Islamic organisations,” said Naeem Zamindar, an award-winning engineer at Intel, USA, who recently quit his lucrative job to pursue service programmes of the Art of Living Foundation in Pakistan. “Several non-governmental organisations, peace activists and eminent individuals have shown interest in his visit,” he added.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar will give public talks and conduct meditation sessions in Karachi and Islamabad. Due to security reasons, the programme in Karachi, to be attended by business, political and entertainment personalities, will be by invitation, whereas in Islamabad, it will be open for all.
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Man run over by bus, hurt
Tribune News Service

Mohali, July 17
Malkit Singh, a resident of phase 10, was seriously injured when he was run over by a bus near the Phase VIII bus station yesterday. Malkit Singh had gone to the bus station to see off his friends but ended up being run over by the bus that was carrying his friends. His friends, Gurcharan Singh and Gurpiar Singh, got off the bus and rushed Malkit Singh to the Phase VI police station from where he was shifted to the PGI. Malkit Singh’s condition is said to be critical.
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Journalist dead
Tribune News Service


Kishore PathaniaChandigarh, July 17
Kishore Pathania, a journalist working as legal correspondent with Punjabi Tribune, died late last night in his sleep.

Pathania had gone to the house of his friend in Mani Majra where he was to stay for the night. His friend found him dead this morning.

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Autorickshaw driver foils robbery bid
Tribune News Service

Mohali, July 17
An autorickshaw driver today foiled a robbery bid at a house in Phase IV here. According to the police, two youths were trying to enter a house (804 Phase IV), when an autorickshaw driver who was passing by saw them and nabbed them. While one of them managed to escape, the other later identified as Manpreet of Phase XI was caught. Police sources added that Manpreet could not flee since he was handicapped. Manpreet told the police that his friend Gurdial Singh with whom he was trying to enter the house was also a resident of Phase XI.

The house owner, Ms Randeep Kaur, informed the police that she was not at home when the thieves tried to enter the house.

Shootout accused held

Another accused in the Kharar shootout case, Harsimran Singh alias Binny, was arrested by the Kharar police today. Two Akali activists were killed and three, including Kiran Bir Singh Kang, one of the main accused, were wounded in exchange of fire at the rally shortly before the arrival of SAD president Parkash Singh Badal on July 2.

Harsimran was sent to two days of police custody by a Kharar court following his arrest. With the arrest of Harsimran, 11 of the 20 accused named in the case have been arrested so far.

Police drive

The police here started a late night drive to nab those selling fake CDs in Mohali. A joint team of the Phase VIII and Phase I police stations conducted raids at small shops in village Mohali, Kumbra, Phase I, and Phase IV.
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Travel agent kidnapped, let off
Tribune News Service

Mohali, July 17
Sandeep Singh, resident of Phase XI here, was kidnapped and then let off by his kidnappers in a day long drama that kept the police on its toes. Finally the kidnappers, whom the police has booked for the crime, said they had to kidnap Sandeep to extract the money that Sandeep owed them.

Sandeep, who works as a travel agent in Chandigarh, was taken away by force by at least two men from his house in Phase XI this morning. The kidnappers had come in a Scorpio (CH03 L1912) which had a Press sticker on it. Sandeep was taken to Dera Bassi and allegedly beaten up and looted by the kidnappers. His mobile phone, watch, gold ornaments and some cash was allegedly taken by them. They then called Sandeep’s residence using a mobile phone and allegedly asked his parents to pay the money that Sandeep owed them.

Sandeep’s family informed the police. A team led by the SHO, Phase VIII, Mr Sukhjit Singh Virk, went to Sandeep’s house. ‘‘Since the family had a telephone caller identification at gadget home, it was able to tell us the number. I talked to the kidnappers, one of whom identified himself as Harjinder Singh, and convinced them that this was no way of resolving a problem and they should bring Sandeep back. There were more than two persons in the car and while two identified themselves, the others remained unidentified,”said Mr Virk.

The kidnappers were asked to come to Phase VIII police station and resolve the issue but they left Sandeep in the car near Fortis Heart Hospital here and fled.

The kidnappers reportedly told Mr Virk that they had no intention of kidnapping Sandeep for extortion. ‘‘Sandeep apparently owed a large sum of money to those boys,’’said Mr Virk.

Sources said Sandeep allegedly took money from young boys on the promise that he would send them to foreign lands and he owed over Rs 4 lakh to his kidnappers. The police has registered a case of kidnapping against Harjinder Singh, resident of Sector 21, Chandigarh and his accomplices.

‘‘It could be true that the victim owes a large sum of money to the kidnappers, but then this is no way of getting it back. They could have approached the police or the courts instead of taking law in their own hands. Now we will investigate the whole matter and see what comes out of it,’’said Mr Rakesh Aggarwal, SP, Mohali.
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